Inspired by a lot of folks, notably Holly Black, I decided to see if I could tweak my schedule in such a way that I would end up writing more than, well, about 700 words per week.
For a while (I won’t tell you how long) I’d only been managing to block out time to work on my manuscript once a week, on a weekend day. Which, granted, was certainly better than no writing at all. But the snail-esque quality of the resulting pace was making me anxious. Plus, despite what I said on the topic in 2008, I’m coming around to thinking that writing every day, or as close to every day as I can possibly manage, will be Good.
But given that I have:
— a full-time dayjob which I have no intention of quitting any time soon
— a desire to work out several times per week
— the usual assortment of errands of lesser and greater urgency
— an ever-decreasing capacity to tolerate chronic sleep debt
…there were a limited number of ways in which said schedule-tweaking could occur.
My plan: minimize the need to decide to write by making it as easy as possible; do the writing equivalent of packing my gym bag the night before.
Because I’ve managed (knock wood) to make working out a routine by doing it first thing in the morning, I reasoned that I could get up even a little earlier and write, then work out, then go to dayjob. To set myself up for success, I’d turn off my wifi and open my Scrivener document right before I went to bed, so the Internet-free laptop with my manuscript would be the first thing I’d see when I woke up. Here’s what happened during the first week.
Breakfast, long workout, then 800 words in 2 hours at the coffeeshop, with Freedom deployed
7 A.M.: 300 words before anyone else was up, at different coffeeshop, with Freedom. Then breakfast, then gym.
2 P.M.: At studio, without computer, scene outlining in longhand. Not sure how many words, because longhand.
4 A.M.: 278 words with the wifi turned off, making lemonade out of the lemons of having woken up even earlier than I’d intended. Workout afterwards predictably lackluster.
6 A.M.: 250 words before breakfast, then gym.
5 A.M.: 109 insomnia-fueled words in half an hour before staggering back to bed, missing gym + finally getting up at 8
Didn’t have to go to dayjob because I’ll be working through the weekend at ALA. Breakfast, long workout, haircut, then:
2 P.M.: Writing date. 780 words in 2 hours, with wifi turned off.
Another insomniac night, as is traditional for me pre-travel. Arrived at airport early with every intention of writing while waiting to board. Intentions foiled by purchase of Wendy McClure’s awesome THE WILDER LIFE. Thought I might write on the plane, but mostly dozed. Half-woke up with an idea for strengthening a subplot, typed myself a brief note, then shut my eyes and half-replotted, half-daydreamed scenes that will need to be revised & added in light of the new idea.
Back-to-back meetings/sessions/gatherings from 8 AM – 11 PM made both writing and working out non-doable. But I walked a fair amount, and one of the aforementioned gatherings was with my agent.
TOTAL FOR WEEK 1: words: 2500, workouts, 5, of varying duration & quality
Caveats: Having a weekday on which I was able to do a long writing stint is not typical. Hoping the insomnia is also not typical. And having a conference in the middle of things results in a trifecta of atypicality. That said: dang, that is a lot more words than I’ve been averaging.
I don’t intend to do this kind of detailed documentation every week, because I think all of you who have not already tiptoed quietly away will vanish from this blog. But so far it sure seems like morning Internetless writing is a Thing that may be Useful.